There has been so much talk about the manufacturing industry’s struggle to find qualified talent to fill the ever growing skills gap. Many assume that because these facilities are relying more and more on automation to manufacturer their products, there is no need for human employees. Furthermore, students and the general public underestimate the rewarding careers the manufacturing industry has to offer. We will discuss what STEM means, the importance of STEM, and why manufacturers need more STEM educated employees than ever before.
What is STEM?
STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. These disciplines have been on the decline for quite some time in the U.S. while demand for STEM educated professionals continues to rise. STEM is actually a driver of innovation as well. Without those who are educated in the latest science, technology, engineering practices and mathematics, innovation would be nearly impossible. It is crucial for not only manufacturers but every sector and industry to have access to STEM professionals. It is incredibly important for businesses to make sure they continually strive for better and look towards technology to make progression possible. Any consumer can purchase all of the technology they could ever desire, but it takes a STEM professional to ensure it works in a way that will benefit the organization.
Why Do Manufacturers Need STEM Employees?
The reason manufacturers are looking for more STEM employees than ever is due in part to the flood of digitally controlled systems and technology making its way into manufacturers hands. Machines are more reliant on advanced technology to stay in working order. When a machine breaks down the problem has an equal chance of being caused by a broken component or a glitch in the code controlling it. A STEM professional must be on hand to evaluate and fix any problem that the machine might encounter.
Robotics systems have made their way in droves to manufacturing companies of all sizes. Once these advanced systems were only for a select few that could afford the large price tag, but now recent advances have lead the way to affordable and practical robots nearly any organization can afford and make use of. These robots cannot take care of themselves. An educated and skilled employee must constantly monitor their programming and complex components to ensure they are working as efficient as possible. Contrary to popular belief, instead of robots eliminating jobs, they are actually creating more highly skilled employment opportunities.
How Can You Find STEM Professionals?
Education and support are two great ways to cultivate the STEM employees that will work for you. Manufacturing apprenticeships have been on the decline and the lack of STEM professionals on staff make it a less attractive option to help create the STEM workforce many manufacturers need. But there is a way manufacturers can create excitement about STEM opportunities.
Many students don’t fully understand what jobs are out there. Everyone knows the accepted path, graduate high school, go to college and get a job. But so many students have dreams and aspirations of becoming a lawyer, doctor or to work in finance because they know from movies and popular culture that these jobs make money. People have been looking down on manufacturing jobs and don’t think they offer career opportunities that would make use of their brain. This could not be farther from the truth. Manufacturing has become a highly technology driven industry and students need to be made aware of these developments.
Manufacturing Day on October 2nd has become a crucial tool to get the word out about the modern manufacturing industry. But manufacturers need to think how they can continue to spread the word all year round. Schools have been slowly phasing out courses like shop class and other hands-on learning courses so manufacturers should look to schools to find and cultivate the talent they desire. After school programs can be created where manufacturers invite students into their shops under their supervision to explain, demonstrate and give students the opportunities to learn hands on what 21st century manufacturing is all about. Even speaking at a local school could open a student’s eyes to what modern manufacturing really consists of. Following this up with an invitation to see your facility and give them the chance to see the technology that manufacturers rely on could help inspire students to look into STEM.
Along with looking to local schools to educate the students about modern manufacturing, manufacturers should also think about investing into their own employees STEM education. If an employee shows a willingness to learn about the technology around the facility it is likely that with a little training they can become a STEM professional. If a manufacturer puts up the money for their STEM education you can not only gain a STEM educated employee, they will also be more willing to stay with the organization that invested in them.
As STEM educated employees continue to be hard to find, manufacturers must understand what they can do to create their own talent. Manufacturers will continue to be more reliant on advanced technology to keep their operation up and running. There are ways to find and cultivate the talent you’re looking for, it will just take a little creative thinking along with some effort to ensure the future of your manufacturing business.